Cold weather advice from the NHS

PEOPLE are being urged to help the local NHS help them during the current adverse weather conditions.

Dr Shyla Thomas, consultant in public health at NHS North Essex, said the organisation has been liaising particularly closely this past week with GPs and other frontline staff to see how they are coping with the extra demands on services brought about by the very cold weather and forecasts of snow.

She said: “The key message is to heed the old but still pertinent advice – don’t go out unless you really have to. Older people particularly are vulnerable to icy conditions.

“And if you do decide not to keep an appointment with your doctor, please phone up and cancel it as it can be offered to someone else.”

Dr Thomas also stressed the following tips to stay healthy during the worst of the weather:

• maintaining a healthy diet, including five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, is particularly important during winter months to keep the body’s natural defence mechanisms high

• flu, particularly for older people and people in certain at risk groups can be an extremely serious illness. If you are over 65 or in an at risk category – this includes people with diabetes and chronic heart, chest or kidney conditions – flu vaccination is free. If you haven’t already done so, contact your GP surgery for a flu jab

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• cold weather can be a potential killer for older people, both in terms of hypothermia and slips and falls. Dressing warmly with several light layers of clothing; moving beds or chairs away from cold exterior walls, eating properly, taking regular warm drinks and staying active can all help people minimise the risk of hypothermia

• be prepared for minor health problems by keeping a well-stocked medicines cupboard that contains paracetamol, ibuprofen, indigestion remedies, cough mixture, mild laxatives and other medication that your family needs. Always read the label